Jean Paul Toulon passed away on November 13, 2010-but I just heard about it tonight.
“J.P.” was in the band Old Skull, one of the worst bands this country has ever produced.
Jean Paul and his younger Jamie hailed from Madison, Wisconsin and in the late 80’s, their father Vern-himself an old punk rocker-prompted his sons to pick up a few instruments and start their own punk band.
Vern had them join forces with a kid who’s father happened to be in the band Tar Babies, and soon the band had a record deal with Restless Records.
It’s not the idea that bothers me, but what did at the time was the fact that this band-more story-line than substance-suddenly got tapped by one of America’s larger independent labels for a record of complete garbage.
What’s more, it’s was painfully obvious that the boys didn’t pen one song-and if there is an element of truthfulness to their songwriting credits, it’s clearly the inspiration of someone feeding them a bunch of shit to say.
There is no musicianship, lyrics amount to such memorable barks of “I hate you Ronald Regan!” and “Kill a dead eagle!” and there is no evidence of songs forming a semblance of structure. It’s just a bunch of kids dicking around on instruments, and I thought that was an injustice to legitimate bands still pining for a record deal.
I personally boycotted Old Skull’s debut album Get Out Of School! at the radio station I worked at because of my conviction. I wasn’t around for their second release, which came about four or five years after the first one.
To be honest, I hadn’t though about Old Skull at all for years. It wasn’t until I learned of J.P.’s passing (no word on the cause of death) in Minneapolis that I think I’d even considered the band since first coming across the band’s stunningly terrible debut.
As I read further, I saw how the band went through and incredible round of bad luck that not only found the lead singer dead, but his younger brother a panhandling heroin addict in New York City.
And what’s more, WFMU DJ Clay Pigeon actually recorded an interview with Jamie last August, not knowing who the person he was talking to until a few minutes into the discussion. Jamie struggled for responses before mentioning that he arrived in N.Y.C. as a musician. Clay pressed a bit, and you can almost hear his jaw drop the moment the homeless man fesses up that he was in a band called Old Skull-a band that Pigeon was familiar with.
It turns out that their mother died shortly after the band started and Toulon’s Svengali father passed away about ten years ago, homeless like his son.
Here’s a sample of Old Skull’s music for reference, a cruelly ironic song called “Homeless.”